The Right to Privacy in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin’s Right to Privacy Statute

Wisconsin law recognizes a right to privacy and permits individuals to bring civil actions for damages resulting from an invasion of that privacy. Here is how Wisconsin defines an invasion of privacy:

  • Intrusion on someone’s privacy in a way that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, in a place that a reasonable person would consider private or in a manner that is actionable for trespass.
  • Using a living person’s name or likeness for advertising purposes without first receiving written consent from that person or, if the person is a minor, written consent from a parent or guardian.
  • Publicity given to a private life event in a manner that a reasonable person would find highly offense, if the defendant has acted either unreasonably or recklessly as to whether there was a legitimate public interest in the matter involved, or with actual knowledge that none existed. However, it is not an invasion or privacy to communicate publicly available information.
  • Making a representation that depicts nudity without the nude person’s knowledge and consent in a circumstance in which the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, regardless of whether there has been any criminal action.

The right to privacy statute does not define what constitutes “reasonable,” leaving it to courts to judge each case’s particular facts and circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

Available Remedies

There are several remedies available to you if a court determines that your right to privacy has been invaded. Those remedies are:

  • Equitable relief to prevent and restrain the invasion of privacy. This does not include restraint against constitutionally protected speech.
  • Compensation based on either the plaintiff’s loss or the defendant’s unjust enrichment.
  • A reasonable amount for attorney’s fees.

However, if the court determines that your invasion of privacy lawsuit is frivolous, then the defendant may be entitled to reasonable fees and costs. The law considers an action frivolous if it was commenced in bad faith or to harass the defendant, or if it is not a viable claim.

Contact Us Today

Contact the personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde today for a free consultation if you have suffered damages from an invasion of privacy. We can help you recover the compensation that you deserve.

Driving While Under the Influence

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In Wisconsin, there were almost 2,900 people injured in alcohol-related crashes in 2015, and 190 people killed. In Minnesota, there were 95 drunk driving fatalities and 2,203 injuries.

The dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are well-known, but unfortunately that does not always stop people from doing it. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 29.1 million people admitted that they drove drunk in 2012, and 9.9 million admitted to driving while under the influence of drugs.

The council also estimates that two in three people will be involved in drunk driving accidents during their lifetimes, and that one-third of all fatal car crashes involve an intoxicated driver or pedestrian. In fact, drunk driving accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers.

Alcohol impairs a driver’s judgment, vision, and reaction time (among other things), which significantly increases the chance of an accident. Drugs can also impact judgment, vision, reaction time, and other skills or cognitive capabilities that drivers need.

Here are a few recent examples of drunk driving incidents in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Drunk Driving Accidents

A suspected drunk driver recently drove into his own Milwaukee apartment building, causing several injuries. His truck caught on fire when it struck the building, which caused the apartment to catch fire. A few second-floor neighbors sustained injuries in their escape from the building.

In Bagley, Wisconsin, a drunk driver crashed into a tent at a campground, injuring seven people. The 32-year-old driver was drinking when she lost control of her car and plowed into the tent, before running over it a second time. All seven people were hospitalized with their injuries, three of whom were airlifted to UW Hospital in Madison.

In Baldwin, Wisconsin, a suspected drunk driver was arrested for going almost 100 miles per hour with three kids in the car. He was traveling on Interstate 94 and was stopped by police for driving almost 30 mph above the posted speed limit. The three kids in the car were all under 16 years old. Luckily, the driver did not crash.

A woman leaving a concert in Minnesota was killed by a drunk driver whose blood alcohol content was almost three times the legal limit. The drunk driver crashed head-on into the 29-year-old concertgoer on Highway 19, just south of the Twin Cities.

Preventing Alcohol-Related Crashes

Drunk driving accidents are entirely preventable. That is why Wisconsin police have launched a campaign that focuses on stopping impaired driving. The name of the campaign, which runs through September 4, is called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” Several Wisconsin police departments have joined the effort, including the Wisconsin Rapids and Grand Rapids police departments and the Adams County sheriff’s department.

Contact Us Today

If you have been injured or have had a loved one killed by a drunk driver, contact the personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde today for a free consultation. We can help you recover the compensation that you deserve, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

 

Teen Crash Rate Above National Average in Wisconsin and Minnesota

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Learning to drive is a rite of passage, but it can also be a dangerous endeavor for young drivers. Recent data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation showed that teenage drivers are three times more likely to be involved in fatal car accidents. Wisconsin and Minnesota are particular hotspots for teen car crashes. The teenage crash rate in these two states is above the national average.

Recent Teen Car Accidents

Here are two examples of car accidents that resulted in teen fatalities:

An 18-year-old boy was killed when his car ran off the road and rolled over in western Minnesota. The accident, which took place in June, happened when his SUV veered into a ditch and he was ejected from the vehicle. The teen had recently graduated from high school and was  not wearing a seatbelt.

In October of 2016, a 16-year-old driver died when another car veered into her lane, causing the teen to swerve and crash in Troy, Wisconsin. The teen died at the scene of the accident. The 22-year-old Minnesota woman who caused the accident was recently charged with homicide by vehicle. Someone who witnessed the accident said they saw the Minnesota woman with both hands on her cell phone. She was driving while distracted.

Teens Likely to Drive Distracted

Distracted driving is a contributing factor in six out of 10 teen car crashes (in addition to the adults who drive distracted, as in the Troy accident described above), according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). Cell phone use — specifically, texting while driving — is a common driving distraction. Some cell phone users also check Facebook, Instagram, and other social media apps while stopped at lights or even while driving. Any type of phone usage while driving is a dangerous distraction.

Other examples of driving distractions include:

  • Eating and drinking, digging through your purse or wallet,
  • Changing the radio station or temperature or messing with other car fixtures,
  • Checking your GPS,
  • Looking at the view or at an accident on the side of the road,
  • Doing your makeup, and
  • Talking to passengers.

What Should I do if I am Injured in a Car Accident?

Make sure you seek medical attention immediately if you are injured in a car accident. Then contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help determine if you have a viable cause of action. Keep in mind that both Wisconsin and Minnesota have statutory time limits for filing a personal injury lawsuit. The statute of limitations in Wisconsin is three years from the date of your accident.  The statute of limitations in Minnesota is six years from the date of the injury.

Contact Us Today

If your teenager has been injured or killed in an automobile accident, or if you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a teenage driver, contact the personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde today for a free consultation. We can help you recover the compensation that you deserve, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Have You Been Injured on the Job?

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Almost 5,000 American workers were killed on the job in 2015, and almost 3 million workers were injured. Many of those deaths and injuries happened here in Wisconsin.

On May 31, 2017, an explosion at Didion Milling Plant in Cambria, Wisconsin, killed three workers and injured 11 others. Six years ago the corn mill had been cited by federal safety investigators for not taking precautions to protect against dust explosions.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace safety and enforces federal safety standards. In 2011, OSHA officials reported that Didion had failed to keep its corn processing facility “free from recognized hazards that caused or were likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Employees were exposed to the hazards associated with dust explosion, deflagration or other fire hazards.”

Didion is not the first workplace to experience a deadly explosion. In fact, between 2011 and 2015 workplace fires or explosions killed 104 workers in Wisconsin, including in the farm, fishing and forestry industries.

Other Examples of Workplace Accidents

Other common workplace accidents include:

Construction site and highway work zone accidents: In March 2017, a worker died at a construction site in Rib Mountain, which is near Wausau, Wisconsin, in Marathon County. The 45-year-old Wisconsin Rapids man was drilling holes in the ceiling when he fell off a ladder. OSHA officials investigated the incident and noted that falls are a leading cause of injury and death in the workplace.

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals: In February 2017 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a report on the dangers of large containers of unknown chemicals, specifically at facilities designed to recycle and refurbish those containers. Many such facilities needed to make safety improvements to protect their workers and the community.
  • Motor vehicle accidents (including drivers who work for trucking companies): In November 2016, a 64-year-old man was run over by a slow-moving semi-truck at a loading dock at Midwest Manufacturing Countertops in Eau Claire County. OSHA officials investigated the accident.

Legal Rights of Employees

Workers who are injured on the job have the right to be compensated by their employers for their injuries. In fact, all companies are required to maintain certain safety standards and obtain workers’ compensation insurance. But workers’ compensation is not always enough to recoup the expenses faced by injured workers (or the families of deceased workers) such as their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related expenses. That is why employees need to know that workers’ compensation is not their only option. In many cases, they may also bring a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent contractor, or another party who might be responsible for the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complexities of workplace injury law.

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a workplace accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde today for a free consultation. We will discuss your legal options and help you determine the best course of action for pursuing the compensation that you deserve.

Accidents Involving Semi-Trucks

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Drivers are often wary of semi-trucks, and for good reason. Because of their size, accidents involving semi-trucks can be devastating. And unfortunately, such accidents are fairly common.

Semi-truck accidents can happen for a number of reasons. Tired drivers trying to make timely deliveries might accidentally fall asleep at the wheel. Drivers might not see smaller cars tucked into their blind spots and change lanes before the other car can move out of the way. Trucks carrying heavy loads might have weight imbalances that make it difficult to maneuver, especially if they need to suddenly stop or change lanes. And, like any driver, semi-truck drivers might be guilty of speeding, driving under the influence, or other forms of reckless driving.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were 7,358 large truck accidents in 2014, which resulted in 63 fatalities and more than 2,100 injuries.

Examples of Recent Accidents Involving Large Trucks

There was a head-on collision between a Toyota Camry and a semi-tractor in January that caused the cab of the truck to burst into flames. The truck driver was able to escape his vehicle, but the Toyota driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

On April 28, a 68-year-old man was driving a pickup truck on a federal highway in Dodge County when he was struck by a semi-tractor. Law enforcement reported that the semi-tractor rear-ended the pickup, forcing it off the road into a ditch, where it overturned. Both the pickup driver and a female passenger were taken to the hospital with injuries.

In early May, two other people were injured when their Chevrolet Cruze was struck by a semitrailer while they were waiting to take a left turn on Route 6 just south of Bowling Green. The truck driver said that he had looked down to shift the semi and when he looked up realized that the Chevrolet was stopped. He attempted to swerve but still rear-ended the smaller car.

What Should I Do If I’m Involved in a Semi-Truck Accident?

The first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Then you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Keep in mind that the truck driver might not be the only person responsible for the accident. If he or she was driving the truck in the course of his or her employment you can likely hold the employer liable as well. If there was something wrong with the truck — like poor maintenance or a faulty part — you might also be able to hold the mechanic or parts manufacturer responsible.

You may be able to recover damages for your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages and other related expenses.

Contact Us Today

The semi-truck accident attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde understand that truck-accident injuries can have a long-term impact on your health and finances. With 40 years of experience, we know how to build an effective personal injury case. Contact us today for a free consultation.

The National Council on Aging Offers Helpful Steps to Prevent Falls For People Over Age 65

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According to the  National Council on Aging (NCOA), falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people over age 65. Because the key is to know where to look, the NCAO lists the following common factors that can lead to a fall:

  • Balance and gait: During the aging process, people commonly lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance, primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
  • Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina, making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see.
  • Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
  • Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.
  • Chronic conditions: More than 90% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.

The following six steps are recommended by the NCOA to reduce falls:

  1. Enlist the support of older loved-ones in taking simple steps to stay safe. For example, the NCOA recommends sharing its article “Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls.”  It may be necessary to discuss concerns with health care provider who can assess the risks and suggest programs or services that could help.
  1. Discuss your older loved one’s current health conditions. This includes taking advantage of all the preventive benefits now offered under Medicare, such as the Annual Wellness visit. Encourage them to speak openly with their health care provider about all of their concerns.
  1. Ask about their last eye checkup. If your older loved one wears glasses, make sure they have a current prescription and they’re using the glasses as advised by their eye doctor.
  1. Notice if they’re holding onto walls, furniture, or someone else when walking or if they appear to have difficulty walking or arising from a chair. These are all signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist.
  1. Talk about their medications. In particular, beware of non-prescription medications that contain sleep aids, including painkillers with “PM” in their names. These can lead to balance issues and dizziness.
  1. Do a walk-through safety assessment of their home because there are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer.

 

The NCOA website provides helpful information in many areas to improve the lives of older adults.

If you or your loved one is injured in a fall, contact the personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde for a free consultation.

 

Filing a Motorcycle Personal Injury Lawsuit

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Motorcycle accidents can be scary, largely because drivers and passengers don’t have the same level of protection that is afforded by an enclosed vehicle. But the law treats motorcyclists no differently than other drivers, and everyone must respect the same rules of the road. Like any driver, if a motorcycle driver or passenger is injured due to someone else’s negligence, he or she might be entitled to compensation.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were almost 2,000 people injured in motorcycle accidents in 2013. There were also 83 deaths (including both motorcycle drivers and passengers). Other significant motorcycle accident statistics in Wisconsin include:

  • Between 2004 and 2013 the number of Wisconsin residents holding a Class M motorcycle license increased by 20 percent. Having more motorcyclists on the roads creates more opportunities for motorcycle accidents.
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol and driving faster than the posted speed limit were the primary causes of almost half of the single unit fatalities in 2013.
  • Only 38 percent of motorcyclists involved in accidents in 2013 were wearing helmets. Wearing a helmet substantially reduces your risk of suffering a head injury.
  • Interestingly, more motorcycle accidents occur between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. than in any other six-hour time period.
  • More motorcycle fatalities occur in southeastern Wisconsin than in any other region of the state.

There are several important things to know before filing a personal injury lawsuit after a motorcycle accident, namely who can bring the lawsuit and when?

Who May Bring a Personal Injury Lawsuit for a Motorcycle Accident?

The authority to bring any kind of lawsuit is called “standing.” When your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you have standing to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person. However, the injured party is not the only party who might have standing to sue. Other people who might have standing include:

  • A parent or guardian — when the injured party is a minor (someone who is under 18 years old), his parent or guardian may bring the lawsuit on his behalf. Note that the statute of limitations (time to file a lawsuit) is extended for minors. They have until two years after they turn 18 to file the claim (when they no longer need to have a parent or guardian bring the lawsuit).
  • The personal representative of the victim’s estate — when a person is killed in a motorcycle accident, the personal representative of his estate can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
  • The guardian of a mentally incompetent adult — if the injured party is considered mentally incompetent under the law, his guardian may bring the lawsuit on his behalf.

Injured parties typically have three years from the date of the accident to file their personal injury lawsuit, unless they are a minor or the accident involves a municipal entity. If a city or county is involved then you only have 120 days to notify the municipality of your injuries.

Be sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that your lawsuit is filed on time and complies with all applicable rules and procedures.

Contact Us Today

The motorcycle accident attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde understand that motorcycle injuries can have a long-term impact on your health and finances. With 40 years of experience, we know how to build an effective personal injury case. Contact us today for a free consultation.

 

Resistance Exercise Bands Can Be Dangerous

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With today’s health crisis we are increasing aware of the need for regular strength training.  When it comes to simplicity, versatility and affordability, it is hard to beat resistance exercise bands.  The bands, which come in a variety of widths, are portable, and usually color-coded according to the level of resistance.  In addition to strength training regimens, they can be used in physical therapy for rehabilitation and to improve range of motion.  But most people use the bands without any awareness of the potential danger.  Unfortunately, the bands can be released suddenly or even snap under resistance.  Eye injuries are common when this occurs.  But the snap-backs may also result in other sorts of injuries.

For example, then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was using an exercise band when it broke or slipped out of his hand, which caused him to spin around and strike his face on a cabinet.  He alleges severe injuries, including loss of vision, a concussion, hand injuries, facial lacerations and a broken rib.

Many online sources are available to provide extensive recommendations for safety, precautions and maintenance of resistance exercise bands.  Because of the risk of injury, these need to be taken seriously.  Some common recommendations include:

  • Wear eye protection.
  • Inspect the exercise band prior to and after use.
  • Keep the exercise band clean and dry.
  • Store your exercise band out of direct sunlight and away from extreme temperatures.
  • Discard old or damaged exercise bands.
  • Do not disregard the instructions of your physical therapist or personal trainer.
  • Check the security of any attachment to accessories or your feet before beginning the exercise.
  • Do not snap the resistance band towards anyone’s face or body.
  • Do not let go of the band while it is under tension.
  • Make sure the band is held so that it cannot contact the face if it breaks.
  • Do not over-stretch the product. This applies to each individual loop, as well as the overall band.

If you are injured by an exercise resistance band or tubing, it is crucial that you save the accident band, the packaging and any package inserts.  Be sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to ensure that necessary evidence is properly preserved.

The personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde have experience litigating product liability cases, including resistance exercise band accidents.  Contact us today for a free consultation.